This past week in Columbus, Ohio, Rae’Lynn Thomas, 28, was shot and killed by her mother’s ex-boyfriend, a man with a history transphobic comments, who repeatedly called her “the devil,” according to Mic.
“Mom, please, please don’t leave me. Mom, I’m dying,” her mother, Renee Thomas, said were her last words. “Mom, I love you. Tell my sisters and my brother I love them. Tell my family I love them. Mom, I’m dying, I’m dying, please don’t leave me.”
James Allen Byrd, 53, is being held on $2 million bond for a murder charge—which is not being investigated as a hate crime, despite Thomas’ claim that Byrd called Rae’Lynn “the devil” before shooting her.
“He was in the bedroom and he just came around the corner and shot my [daughter],” said Thomas. Byrd then reportedly began to beat Rae’Lynn after shooting her.
“He took a light away from all of us that we can’t get back,” Shannon Thomas, Rae’Lynn’s aunt, said to WBNS. “And he needs to pay. He needs to pay.”
Thomas says that her daughter transitioned around 10 years ago.
An official from New York City’s Anti-Violence Project claims that Thomas is the 18th confirmed transgender or gender non-conforming murder victim in 2016. In 2015, 67% of LGBTQ homicides were committed against transgender victims, and around 50% of the 24 victims were women of color. This suggests that trans women of color, particularly, are a target and need to be protected from violence.
“Our hearts, minds and condolences are with the family, friends, and community of Rae’Lynn in this time of tragedy,” said Aaron Eckhardt, the training and technical assistance director of the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization.
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